Chamomile extract and various isolated constituents within chamomile have demonstrated anti-inflammatory activity in a variety of tests.
Chamomile extract showed anti-inflammatory effects when applied topically in animal models of inflammation (Al-Hindawi et al 1989, Plevova 1999, Shipochliev et al 1981). In a comparative trial, hydro-alcoholic extracts of chamomile produced antiinflammatory actions when applied topically in the croton ear test in the mouse. The hydro-alcoholic extract reduced oedema in a dose-dependent manner and was equivalent in effectiveness to benzydamine at twice the usual clinical dose, but hydrocortisone was found to be the most effective treatment (Tubaro et al 1984).
Another comparative study investigated the anti-inflammatory effects of an extract prepared from dried flowers, an extract based on fresh flowers, and the volatile oil, in croton oil-induced dermatitis of mouse ear. The activity of fresh chamomile equalled the activity of the reference drug (benzydamine).
The anti-inflammatory activity of the herb appears to be due to several different constituents, chiefly apigenin, matricin, chamazulene and alpha-bisabolol, although others may also exist.
The previous study determined that apigenin exerts the strongest anti-inflammatory action, which is ten times greater than matricin, which is ten times greater than chamazulene (Delia Loggia et al 1990). Another study evaluated the effects of apigenin on the lipopolysaccharide-induced pro-inflammatory cytokines IL6 and TNF-alpha in vitro and in vivo (Smolinski & Pestka 2003). Apigenin reduced IL6, but not TNF-alpha in vitro. Pretreatment with the flavone (50 mg/kg) reduced IL6 by 35% and TNF-alpha by 33% in vivo as compared with control animals. Alpha-bisabolol has demonstrated anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects in a number of experimental inflammatory models: rat paw oedema, adjuvant arthritis of the rat, ultraviolet erythema of the guinea pig, and yeast fever of the rat (Jakovlev et al 1979).
Most studies have investigated the effects of topically applied chamomile or isolated constituents; however, one study using the carrageenan inflammation test chamomile 205
on rat paws showed that orally administered matricin produces anti-inflammatory
activity that was greater than chamazulene and almost as effective as (-)-alpha-bisabolol (Jakovlev et al 1979, Shipochliev 1981a).
Chamazulene has been found to inhibit leukotriene B4 formation and blocks chemical peroxidation of arachidonic acid (Safayhi et al 1994).
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